Emil Guillermo: Beyond racism, the new enemy–ageism

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Ageism is everywhere now if you haven’t noticed, thanks to a certain Asian American special prosecutor.

First, I tried to get away from the news by watching Super Bowl 58, which at 58 is still well under mandatory retirement age.

The San Francisco 49ers seemed to explode out of the gate, dominating the Kansas City Chiefs 10-3 at halftime, in a score that should have been worse. But it set up the Chiefs’ dramatic comeback in overtime.

Of course, the team most resembling a red-envelope would prevail Lunar New Year weekend.

The big surprise: some of the reactions to Usher’s Super Bowl half-time show on Sunday. Oh, yeah, the dude was ripped and didn’t miss a step, not even in roller skates. But there was an implication from critics that somehow the pop star with a 30-year legacy of hits was somehow just too old and past it.

Good thing he’s not running for president.

Helping Usher were some younger folk taking star turns, including the Filipina Asian American/African American pop star guitarist Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, known by her stage name H.E.R. for “Having Everything Revealed.”

Hooray for H.E.R.

Boo on Hur.

I’m referring to the Korean American Robert Hur, the special prosecutor who went above and below the call of duty in a political slander of President Joe Biden.

Hur is leading the charge for ageism this political year.

Hur’s investigation concluded there would be no prosecution against Biden for any mishandling of classified documents. That really should have been the big news of last week. Once he determined there was not enough evidence to prosecute the president, Hur was done.

And yet somehow, Hur, a Trump appointee to the Justice Department, in typical Asian American fashion managed to get in a little extra credit.

Hur was named special prosecutor in January of last year by Attorney General Merrick Garland, a smart man who should be on the Supreme Court. He must have thought it was a stroke of genius to appoint a Trump Republican in a political year to investigate his Democratic boss. That would be a sign of unity in the fight for truth and justice, right?

It wasn’t.

Hur, the son of South Korean immigrants and a Harvard grad, knew exactly what he was doing.

Last year when he was appointed by Garland he said all the right things.

“I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial and dispassionate judgment,” Hur said in a released statement. “I intend to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor, and will honor the trust placed in me to perform the service.”


Or is that right-wing?

Just because Hur found nothing to prosecute doesn’t mean he was fair or impartial. Following the facts “without fear or favor” is a nice line, but it would mean dropping speculative comments about Biden’s memory. And Hur couldn’t resist.

Those comments were challenged by Biden’s attorneys who were present during the key interview last year between Biden and Hur. This weekend, Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, called Hur’s report a “shabby piece of work.”

“Legal experts around the country are saying it just goes off the rails,” said Bauer on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He said the report reached the right legal conclusion then was loaded with hundreds of pages of “misstatements of facts and totally inappropriate and pejorative comments that are unfounded and not supported by the record.”

Hur sounds like he was padding the report to buttress his own career among Republicans, who have seized on the report’s findings that give an excuse why the president shouldn’t be prosecuted.

Wrote Hur: “At trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Was this an impartial report or an audition to be a Fox News/One America News commentator?

All Hur has done is make sure the issue of Biden’s age and mental fitness is front and center for the rest of the political year.

The enabler of ageism is a man from an Asian American culture supposedly known for reverence and respect for older members of their families.

But not in the age of Trump, where his minions emulate his lack of civility and fairness in an all-out effort to win even when losing.

No prosecution legally? Then Hur went for the kill politically.

In doing so, he let loose the virus that is ageism.

I once thought ageism would unite us all. We may not all be the same race, ethnicity, or gender. But we all fight time and the aging process. That should be our common ground, the thing that brings us together.

To win our fight against Father Time, we need to think of it as a team sport.

But how naïve I was. Instead of being our common ground, age divides. Generation gaps exist. And it’s charged with emotions that fuel a discrimination harder to fight than racism.

Look at how meritocracy nerds refuse to give credit to Biden for his accomplishments, like the soft-landing on the economy.

Why? They can’t deem him competent when all they see is an old man, as did Special Prosecutor Robert Hur.

Of course, it can cut both ways. This weekend, Donald Trump, 77, said Russia should be able to do “whatever the hell they want” to NATO members who don’t meet their defense spending targets.

“They must pay their bills,” Trump said of his allies. This coming from the man notorious for not paying lawyers, defendants, and contractors. He’s pro-Putin and taking side swipe at allies?

Is he just regular Trump crazy or is he senile?

That’s why ageism has become the campaign’s dominant theme for both parties.

It’s an issue that is sure to hang around, and it doesn’t age well.


NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on